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‘We’re not in a hurry to go anywhere’: Volunteer in Kentucky shares his hand in Kentucky’s road to recovery

Posted at 5:28 PM, Dec 15, 2021

“We’re not going anywhere,” said Gary O'Connell, a volunteer with Baltimore's chapter of the American Red Cross.

O'Connell will be the first to say he’s happy to help those enduring the worst of days after the storms.

.The timing of his generosity couldn’t be better as those already suffering in Kentucky have even more worries looming.

"Unfortunately the next couple of days are going to be challenging. There’s a storm front coming through. There’s going to be thunderstorms tomorrow Friday and some people are still sheltering in their homes but with the roofs taken off and this rain coming in, they’ll probably head into the shelters," said O'Connell.

"This is what we sign up for and we know that disasters don’t have a calendar. They happen when they happen. We agreed to this. This is what I like to do," he added.

The devastation is what we see but what keeps Gary motivated is the hope peaking through the rubble.

"They’ve all been impacted and yet they’re still going out to help others. That’s what we see across a lot of the disasters. Disasters are obviously a terrible thing but they do tend to bring a community together," O'Connell shared.

He tells us his deployment in Kentucky will go through Christmas away from his friends and family. Away from his job but around a new temporary family who he’s certain will make it worth-while.

"It’s an inconvenience for us but for these people down here. Their homes are ruined. Christmas, they don’t have a Christmas tree. They don’t have Christmas so if by being here we can help a little bit, that’s what we do," he said.

Serving alongside people who remind him why he began his journey as an American Red Cross volunteer years ago.

"Everyone here has agreed to give up 2 weeks of their life and now especially at Christmas for no pay to come help others so you know they’re good people," said O'Connell.

The teams will serve water and hot meals to victims and provide transportation but also, "If people want to talk about what they’re going through, we’ll listen because that’s part of our job. It’s not only giving out food and giving out water. It’s to sit and talk with people and listen to them so they know people care," said O'Connell.

The only way Gary and the team at American Red Cross can continue their efforts there in Kentucky and beyond is through generous donors.

To help, visit https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html/